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The preparations and organisation required for showing all cats is basically the same, no matter what the breed of cat you are showing. But of course all breeds are somewhat different, and the preparation required, for instance, for a fluffy Persian cat may not be right for a hairless Sphynx cat or a curly coated Rex cat. So here are some hints and tips on what may be useful specifically for your Maine Coon cat, both before you take it to a show, and during the show.
As for any breed, you will need to get the show schedule in good time and fill out the entry form, making sure you use the correct code for your Maine Coon's colour, and that you put him in the correct colour class. Please note that the colour classes for 'Coonies' have changed recently – they used to be 'Brown and Blue Tabby', 'Silver Tabby Series', and 'Any Other Colour'. But now there is a separate class for 'Red, Cream or Tortie' Tabbies', and the 'Any Other Colour' class has changed its name to 'Smoke, Self or Shaded'. This probably won't bother you, but if you have come back to showing Maine Coons after a break, do take note of it.
The only other mistake you might make at this stage is in choosing the size of pen your cat will need. For most adult Maine Coons you will need to ask for a double pen, and there will be a place on the form to do this. But what about kittens? Well, just bear in mind that your little Maine Coon kitten may have grown substantially in the month or two between sending in your show entry form and going to the show. This happened to me; I was sure my five month kitten didn't need a double pen, but by the time Show Day came around he was over six months old, and huge! The poor kitten was quite cramped in his single pen. So take note of the size of other cats in your Maine Coon's pedigree, and if they are very large, definitely get your kitten a double pen.
All Maine Coon cats will need a bath before a show. Some other cat breeds can get away without one, but most Maine Coons have fairly greasy fur, and you will need to wash your cat thoroughly. People vary as to when this should be done; I find three days before the show is best to allow the cat's coat to settle down, but some people do it two days or even a day before. It depends very much on the texture of your cat's coat, and you will find out by experience.
If you have space, washing your cat in the bath will probably work best. Some of us use the kitchen sink, but a lot of 'Coonies' are too large for this. People vary as to their bathing routine, but if you and your cat are new to this, simply using a good quality cat shampoo and plenty of rinsing will probably work fine. Towel and air drying is OK, but Maine Coons have long coats and this may take ages, particularly in winter. Blow drying is excellent, but personally I have never had a cat who would tolerate it; they all ran a mile at the sound of the hair dryer. It is also possible to buy special drying cabinets, but they are fairly expensive.
Beyond this basic technique, there are a whole lot of other products and techniques that people use, particularly if their Maine Coon has a particularly greasy coat. Some use dishwashing soap to de-grease before the main wash with cat shampoo. I have even heard of people using Swarfega for this purpose, although I don't fancy the idea myself. But however you wash your cat, pay particular attention to his ruff, his tail, and to any white bits. And even if your Maine Coon normally goes outside, whether into the garden or a run, keep him in after his bath at least until his coat is dry. After that you let him out at your peril, bearing in mind it may mean you have to wash his feet again at least, if not the whole of him.
Your Maine Coon will then need to be thoroughly groomed, and his ears, eyes, and nose cleaned if necessary. And you will need to clip the claws of all four paws.
If you have done all of the above, there should not be too much to do on Show Day. You will probably need to do a little last minute grooming, to make sure your Maine Coon is showing himself off to his best advantage. Again, pay particular attention to his ruff and tail, and make sure his paws are clean. I don't know if it's due to their free ranging heritage, but some 'Coonies' seem to delight in somehow getting dirty paws just before a show!
You want your cat to be relaxed and happy when he is being judged, so try not to upset him by doing too much grooming and fussing around. But you shouldn't need to worry all that much. Most Maine Coons are extrovert, sociable, and gregarious, and take well to showing. They are unlikely to be the cats who try to hide when at a show, or can't wait to escape. Indeed, they are more likely to talk to the judges and public, and look on the whole thing as a fun day out.
Finally, I hope the show will prove to be a good experience for both you and your Maine Coon cat. Hopefully he will win a rosette or two, and maybe you will make some new Maine Coon oriented friends, who will be able to give you further showing advice if you want it. But if your cat doesn't win anything, please don't worry. Remember, no matter what happens, you always take the best cat home!
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